The Pittsburgh Steelers are entering a pivotal moment in the organization’s rich history. This offseason is one filled with change and uncertainty. Ben Roethlisberger has officially retired, Kevin Colbert is slated to step down as General Manager (GM) after the draft and the future of any number of free agents remains hanging in the balance.
On the bright side of things, the Steelers are equipped with more salary cap space than they’ve had in their recent history. Throw in their 2022 NFL Draft picks and the team could easily re-tool their roster to remain a competitive force in the AFC.
But for those who think all will go right with the Steelers this offseason, plenty can go wrong. I talked about all which could go wrong yesterday in the worst-case scenario article. Check it out below:
Contrary to that article, what would be the best-case scenario for the team this offseason? I hope this is what the real offseason looks like...
What could go right?
Stephon Tuitt returns, and is healthy
In the worst-case scenario article, I talked about Tuitt not returning to the team, and how it would cause a ripple effect with the roster. If Tuitt does return to the team, and his healthy both physically and emotionally, it would essentially mean the team doesn’t have to worry about the defensive line in either free agency, or early in the draft. Tuitt’s return would be a huge boost for the run defense, and the team as a whole.
Wise roster decisions are made, creating a better salary cap situation
There are some moves which you can just tell are bound to happen. Either Joe Schobert negotiates a new contract with the team, or he is cut. Zach Banner is likely a cap casualty as well. If these moves are made it will only free up more money for the team to find ways to elevate their roster outside the organization. The Steelers have long been known to keep players a year too long, but this offseason is a good way for them to buck this trend. Make the moves necessary to improve your roster from top to bottom.
The quarterback position
The quarterback position is one which will be debated till the cows come home, but the best-case scenario in that regard is to have Mason Rudolph be the guy for 2022 with a $4 million dollar cap hit. It won’t be popular, but avoiding the high priced free agent quarterback, and the rookie signal caller in a lousy class, the Steelers can build up the rest of their roster while Rudolph puts his best foot forward.
The Steelers’ list of free agents is long, but let’s not pretend the team wants to bring all of these players back. In the best-case scenario the team is able to bring back Terrell Edmunds, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Montravious Adams and Ahkello Witherspoon.
Sure, losing Joe Haden hurts, but unless he is willing to take a huge pay cut, his production/availability don’t match a top tier cornerback anymore. The Steelers shouldn’t pay him as such either. Keeping those they truly value will help keep a core group together, while not breaking the bank.
Outside Free Agency
The Steelers are selective in Free Agency, but not picky either. They realize both quality and quantity are necessities, and they sign both depth players as well as starters to their roster. Avoiding the big ticket free agent, especially quarterbacks, the Steelers would not spend just to spend, like so many other NFL franchises do year to year, but make wise decisions which will better their football team and not leave them smack against the cap in 2023.
2022 NFL Draft
With so many areas of need this offseason, the Steelers bypass a quarterback altogether. Sure, they could try and be aggressive and make a play for Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis, but the cost is just too steep. On top of that, the Steelers have glaring needs at other positions.
The Best Player Available (BPA) approach has worked well for the Steelers in the past, and they’d be wise to continue with this style of drafting. Rather than focusing on a position of need, and there are plenty of needs on this roster, they can sit back and see who falls to them at pick No. 20 and take the BPA.
This approach isn’t always the favorite of the fan base, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t the right approach, and the best-case scenario for the draft. Leave the draft by filling needs, not selling the farm for a player who might not even start in 2022.
There are some who might read this article and suggest this doesn’t seem to out of the ordinary for the Steelers in a typical offseason. If I’m being honest, you’re right. Outside of the extra salary cap space, the Steelers are typically an organization who does things the right way. After all, there is a reason they have remained competitive all these years and their last losing season was the 6-10 2003 season.
As you can see, if the Steelers do have this type of offseason in 2022 it would indeed be a pivotal offseason, and for all the right reasons.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the start of the new league year, and the 2022 NFL Draft.